Up to six million Americans are drinking water that is contaminated with harmful toxins. These chemicals can contribute to a slew of health problems, including certain types of cancer, high cholesterol, thyroid issues, and even compromised immune function.
The concentration of chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in water exceeds government-recommended safety standards.
Lead research Cindy Hu said, “These chemicals may have complicated names, but people are exposed to them in nonstick cookware and packaging — things we use in our lives. These chemicals have concerning health effects, and drinking water is one of the main ways people are exposed to PFASs.”
Photo Credit: Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett., Article ASAP (DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00260)
Many of these chemicals have been phased out decades ago, yet they linger in the environment to this day. Other chemicals are still used in manufacturing.
Hu suggests that in reality the scale of the PFAS exposure is even greater than in the study, as drinking water served to nearly 100 million Americans is never tested for these substances. Unfortunately, unless they specifically test the water, people are not aware of the fact they are exposing themselves to harmful toxins. The detrimental effects of PFASs on health accumulate over time.
Addressing the problem is a challenge because regular water treatment doesn’t eliminate PFASs. Switching to bottled water is not a solution either, as chemicals from plastic bottles may end up in the water, too.
The best way to avoid PFASs is to prevent the contamination of water. Unfortunately, there are currently no recommendations for finding alternative drinking water sources at this moment.